For so long, all the climate change news was bad. It mostly still is. But at least now there is a drip-drip-drip of good news too. We need every drip we can get.
Here are some things that most people can do, today, to both reduce their personal carbon footprints and join in with collective action that puts pressure on governments and polluting corporations. We have to team up to fight this monster.*
- Get the facts. Learn about climate change. The basic facts are remarkably straightforward. Here’s a handy summary. Or if you prefer video, try this.
- End climate silence. Talk with friends and family about the climate emergency and especially about how to solve it. Katharine Hayhoe has some great advice here.
- Use your voice. Contact your elected representatives. Demand that they act. Here are some simple asks: Stop subsidies for fossil fuels. Invest in green energy. Increase forest cover. Help people adapt. Now.
- Use your vote. Support climate-conscious candidates. Hold them to account once they are in power. Check their voting record. This site shows how UK politicians vote and lets their constituents email them directly.
- Get connected. We cannot fight this monster alone, and isolated we are weak. Join a local group. If there isn’t one, set one up. Join a national group. There are many, from Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement to 350.org and Greenpeace.
- Protest. Join a march. Join a strike. Support the schoolchildren who are striking every week for their future.
- Go local. Get involved in local politics. Go to local council meetings. Run for office. The warming may be global, but its impacts are all local.
- Use your money. You vote for the kind of world you want with every penny you spend, save or invest. Choose low-carbon products. Choose an ethical bank, like Triodos, or a pension fund that doesn’t invest in fossil fuel companies. The Make My Money Matter campaign says making your pension green is 21 times more effective at cutting carbon emissions than going veggies, using green energy and stopping flying (see: How to stop your pension fund from fuelling climate change and deforestation).
- Know your carbon footprint. There’s a calculator here.
- Buy less stuff. Avoid fast fashion. Use second-hand/vintage stores. Use Freecycle or Freegle to get things other people no longer need or pass on your stuff to new owners. As Soona Amhaz said in this Twitter thread: “Not wanting something is as good as having it.”
- Use less energy. Wash clothes in cold water. Dry clothes outside instead of in a tumble dryer. Turn the thermostat down. Unplug unused electronics to reduce standby power consumption. Choose low energy appliances. Change your lightbulbs – LED bulbs can cut your lighting bill by up to 90%. Take a shorter shower. Insulate your home. All of these things will save you money. Here is a great list of more tips for reducing your energy use at home, along with a handy infographic.
- Use green energy. Switch away from using fossil fuels in your home. This site shows certified providers of renewable energy in the United States. In the UK, you can choose companies like Bulb.
- Eat less meat. Reducing how much meat you eat – especially beef (see Jonathan Foley’s ‘beef rules‘ and the #NoBeef campaign) – is one of the biggest changes you can make. Your body will thank you.
- Drive less. Walk, cycle or take trains and buses. Demand better public transport. The air will become sweeter.
- Grow a forest. Donate to tree planting in the tropics. This stores carbon, protects wildlife and creates jobs for local people. Check out Tree Sisters, for example.
- Fly less, if at all. This is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions. If you must fly, then fly smart and offset your emissions (here is just one of many options) but bear in mind that your plane’s carbon emissions will still enter the atmosphere and stay there for many years.
- Don’t forget self-care. Look after your mental and physical health. The fight against climate change is a long-term one. It will take a strain on our minds. We need to look after and love ourselves and each other.
- Take Vitamin N. Spend time in nature, I mean, and ideally with loved ones. Not only is it good for your mind and body, but it reminds us what we are fighting for.
- Be visible: As Leor Hackel and Gregg Sparkman noted in this Slate article last year. “People don’t spring into action because they see smoke; they spring into action because they see others rushing in with water.”
- And…? Over to you. Leave a comment to add your suggestions.
*See the accompanying post, ‘Wanted: Climate Heroes. No experience required’